A total team effort and success from behind the three-point line helped Washburn stave off a furious comeback effort by the Missouri Southern Lions and capture an 83-76 victory in Joplin on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Ichabods improve to 4-4 (1-1 MIAA) while the Lions fall to 2-7 (0-2 MIAA).
The Ichabods finished the game with a 42 percent shooting percentage (29-of-69) and the Lions were 28-of-59 for a 47.5 field goal percentage. Washburn went 12-of-29 from three-point land while Missouri Southern converted on just 5-of-16 attempts from deep. The Lions pulled down two more rebounds than the Ichabods, 38-36. The Ichabods capitalized on the Lions’ 16 turnovers for 22 points while Washburn made just eight turnovers.
Washburn led by 15 points at the start of the second half after Reagan Phelan hit a three-point shot 16 seconds into the third quarter. Missouri Southern whittled away at Washburn’s lead with two 7-0 runs and got within six points with 28 seconds left in the third period before the Ichabods added a layup to close out the frame leading 63-55.
The Ichabods came out in the fourth quarter on a 5-0 run in the first 55 seconds to push their lead back to double-digits at 68-55. The Lions clawed their way back into the game yet again, going on a 16-3 scoring tear in nearly five minutes of play to even the score at 71-all with 3:44 left in regulation. Washburn answered with crucial back-to-back made three-pointers by Hunter Bentley and Shlebe Piggie to break the tie and go back in front by six, 77-71, at the 1:55 mark.
Missouri Southern hit a free throw with 53 seconds left in the game to get within four points, 77-73, but that’s as close as it would get as Missouri Southern would be forced to foul Washburn, who went 6-of-6 from the line in the final 19 seconds.
The Ichabods shot 48.57 percent (17-of-35) in the opening half and started and ended the half with a made three-pointer. Alexis McAfee scored the first points of the game on a triple and the Ichabods carried a 21-12 lead into the second quarter. The Lions chipped away at the Washburn lead and a three-pointer of their own at the 6:30 mark in the second quarter to trail by four at 26-22. Washburn made half of its shots in the second frame (9-of-18) and capped off the opening half with a three-point shot by Phelan with five seconds left to send the Ichabods into the break with a 12 point lead at 46-34.
Phelan led the Ichabods with 21 points and was 4-of-9 from behind the arc. She also handed out three assists and had one of Washburn’s three blocks. Bentley and Piggie also finished in double-figures, adding 18 and 17 points, respectively. Bentley grabbed a team-best nine rebounds with Abby Oliver right behind with eight boards.
Missouri Southern was led by Destiny Cozart with 26 points and six rebounds.
The Ichabods will play next in two weeks with a pair of games at the Cruzin Classic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Washburn will face No. 8 Saint Anselm (Wednesday, Dec. 18) before taking on Harding the following afternoon.